Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get

By Sandy Lloyd


Well, dear reader, the world has changed dramatically since we last spent some time together two weeks ago.

It has turned inside out and upside down and may never look the same again.

Can it be only two weeks since my biggest problem was my feelings were hurt when I was asked for my Seniors card, just because I have grey hair?

And can it be only three weeks ago I was selfishly moaning about my cruise holiday possibly being disrupted by an annoying virus?

Fast forward to today, and every port in the world has banned cruise ships from docking, countries across the globe are closing their borders and international flights are about to stop flying.

People are losing their jobs and livelihoods and — worst of all — their lives.

How petty my troubles now seem — my cruise was cancelled and I’m safely at home, with a credit from the cruise line tucked away for my rebooked adventure next April (third time lucky).

My biggest problem is will I run out of toilet paper before I can buy some more.

I’m doing just fine and so are the people I love, when so many others are not. And I am incredibly grateful for that.

But hang on a minute — this column is sounding a bit too serious, not the usual lighter tone Word Girl strives for.

Is there still room for humour in these troubled times?

I believe that’s when we need humour the most — not to mock or wound, but to find a few rays of sunshine on an otherwise bleak and cloudy day.

So here is my humble list of just a few reasons to smile — even if it’s a wry smile — through the gloom and doom.


Thank goodness. Imagine if Tom Hanks had died here because we gave him COVID-19? The United States would probably have declared war on Australia, for killing a national treasure.

And I’m relieved the Queen has tucked herself away in Windsor Castle to stay safe (I bet she’s got plenty of toilet paper).


All my years of reading science fiction and watching end-of-the-world movies have left me in a unique position to understand this crisis.

Is it Stephen King’s The Stand, where a government-made super-flu bug escapes and kills most of the population? Conspiracy theorists should read that one.

Or how about World War Z – the excellent book, not the dreadful Brad Pitt movie – where a mysterious virus starts in China before sweeping across the world and turning people into zombies? Spookily, the whistle-blower Chinese doctor in the book is silenced by authorities before succumbing to the plague – just like the Wuhan doctor who tried to tell the world what was happening.

My son wonders when some clever media person is going to dub the fight against the pandemic as ‘World War C’. There, I just did.

On the day the volume of COVID-19 seemed to be turned up to 1000 (March 13), we decided at work we were in the middle of that montage you see at the start of apocalypse movies – garbled news reports hinting at a disaster overlaid with shots of riots and people panic buying in supermarkets. Then the movie starts with scenes of empty streets and deer grazing in car parks because everyone has died.


This one falls under the ‘so awful it’s funny’ category. As if US President Donald Trump wasn’t crazy enough, his handling of this emergency has lurched into the utterly bizarre.

From his initial denials there was any problem at all to now declaring he “knew all along it was a pandemic before anyone else did”, his special brand of fake news is spreading as fast as COVID-19 through his unprepared country.

CNN is keeping a score card of how many times The Donald has contradicted his own health specialists and given dangerously incorrect information – it’s sitting at 28 times.


I do my weekly grocery shop on my day off work on Mondays. Usually it’s me and a few old ladies and one checkout open.

Not this week. It was bedlam and every checkout was open – a phenomenon usually kept for the day before Good Friday and Christmas Eve.

I was amused by the pile of confiscated packets of pasta sitting next to the Woolies worker, who said the checkout computer wouldn’t allow more than two packs to be scanned. Take that, hoarders.


Amid all the theatre and gallery closures (I can’t get my head around the Louvre being shut) and footballers playing in an empty MCG (did you see that?) and no live audiences for TV shows (Mad As Hell without laughter was so weird), the final word belongs to Disneyland.

The ‘Happiest Place On Earth’ has closed for only the third time in its 65-year history – the other two were for US national days of mourning following John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Be kind to each other and take care out there.


From home. The News is heeding the government’s call to have staff work from home wherever possible because of coronavirus, and the sub-editors have left the building.

At the end of my shift on Wednesday I packed up my computer — which for a sub is a hefty box and monitor, not a little laptop — and off I went.

It was a surreal moment, saying goodbye when I wasn’t really ‘leaving’. Two days in and the good points?

I like the dress code (casual clothes and bare feet, but definitely not PJs) and playing music without headphones. The bad? I miss my friends and colleagues and the office buzz.


The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel.

It’s the third book in her acclaimed trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, which started with Wolf Hall, then Bring Up the Bodies.

I’m a sucker for Tudor historical novels (Philippa Gregory is a favourite author) but Mantel is the only writer to focus on Henry VIII’s adviser Cromwell, instead of the king and his wives.

And she’s a brilliant writer — the first two novels both won the Man Booker Prize. Can she make it three in a row?

Fans have waited eight years for this final book. It was top of my cruise holiday reading pile — but now I’m reading it on dry land.


Old James Bond movies. I thought I’d be watching the newest Bond instalment, and Daniel Craig’s last outing as 007, in early April.

But No Time To Die has been killed off by COVID-19, its release delayed by seven months. 9Gem is showing all 21 Bond movies over 21 consecutive nights — that’s quite a marathon and impossible to keep up with, but a great lark.

I know all the arguments about how badly women are treated in Bond movies, but lighten up — they’re rollicking good fun with everyone’s tongues planted firmly in their cheeks.

A perfect antidote to all the doom and gloom.


On news about the coronavirus pandemic. It’s the same as 9/11 — I am horrified by it all, but I can’t look away.

Even as I write this I am checking the ABC News website in case something new has happened.

Unlike 9/11, this disaster is striking much closer to home. So it is important to stay informed and up-to-date.

But it is easy to get overwhelmed and I am careful to stick to reputable news sources — this is one time when I’m happy to live in a social media-free zone.

Friends tell me about some of the madness being spread on Facebook. That’s an infection worse than COVID-19.